Customers are demanding more because new technology enables them to get more from their service providers. Field service and customer service experts explain the best ways to improve customer interactions in 2016.
Field service technicians are typically the only personal contact customers have with vendors. Making the most of these touchpoints and building solid customer relationships is vital for customer retention, brand differentiation, and a healthy bottom line. But making each of those personal interactions impactful and profitable is a constant challenge for busy field service organizations. Because field service lives outside of the confines of an office building, technicians need the proper mobile tools to empower them to show up on time, bring the right parts, have access to knowledge base and customer history, and communicate clearly to the customer. A cloud-based, field service management solution enables service organizations to close the loop for end-to-end customer service delivery.
1. Faster response time
Customer experience expert, Jeff Toister, claims that pressure to speed response time is a top customer service trend for field-based businesses: “Customers want help fast and are less willing to wait for it to come to them. For field service employees, this means finding ways to shorten appointment windows and shorten appointment times.” Service scheduling software enables fast and accurate technician assignments based on tech location, availability, and skills-set.
2. Prevent service failures, especially repeat problems.
Jeff also recommends that service organizations focus on preventing service failures from occurring instead of responding to failures after they occur: “Committing three truck rolls to fix a problem that should have taken one wastes time and annoys the customer. In field service, figuring out how to fix issues the first time and preventing them from happening again is increasingly important.”
3. Empower customers with customer self-service
Customers increasingly expect to solve problems themselves. “In field service, I think we’ll see an increasing demand for self-service options that would have generated a service call in the past,” said Jeff. “This means that the calls field service employees are being assigned to are getting more complicated. I expect this to continue to happen.” In some ways, technology is decreasing customer interactions. Services that used to require premise-based hardware are now cloud-based. Employees are able to do more remotely, and customers are able to do more themselves. Because of self-service, basic issues are being handled by technology, while field service employees are generally encountering more complicated challenges. This means today’s field service technicians need to have a broader range of skills and be good problem solvers.
4. Invest in diagnostics
In an effort to improve the customer experience and first time fix rates, many organizations are investing in remote monitoring and diagnostics. A remote sensor in equipment can deliver complete diagnostics about machine performance. It can tell you where the equipment is, if it’s running, what amount of fuel is in it, what the load is, and any history of faults or triggers. This sort of continuous monitoring is saving failures onsite, which ultimately makes customers happy.
5. Focus on selling service contracts
Today, leading service providers are using equipment sensors and industrial IoT to establish preventive maintenance programs to provide their customers with higher equipment reliability and uptime. For service organizations to maintain loyal customers and consistent revenue, maintenance agreements are the best path to profitability. And, customers like PMs because they establish ongoing, trusted relationships with service providers and there’s less worry that their equipment will malfunction.
6. Enable technicians with the right technology and tools
Modern field service management technology enables field technicians to function as sales representatives and offer additional products and services, renew contracts, and collect signatures onsite. As an increasingly customer-oriented industry, field service requires software solutions that optimize efficiency, improve quality of service, and increase customer satisfaction. An all-in-one FSM suite is the only offering available that’s equipped to handle mobile, back office, and scheduling needs for dynamic field service organizations.
7. Give the sales team a view into the field
The service sales team has a difficult job. The field service team can help by taking advantage of their time in front of customers and their access to competitive assets onsite. Train techs to ask the right questions and have their eyes open to gaps in the current products and services being used. Passing this information onto sales can drive the top line for the entire organization.
8. Don’t give away service for free
Service organizations often send technicians out to customers to service equipment and assets which are no longer under warranty or within a service contract. This is a missed opportunity. Top performing organizations ensure they’re getting paid for the service their team is providing. When contracts are about to expire, technicians don’t have to refuse service but they will have the knowledge to give the customer a small nudge reminding them their bill is due.
Conclusion: Happy customers = Higher revenue
Retaining customers often depends on reliable delivery, tailored services, and appropriate responses to issues. Deploying field service technology allows your company to make the most of every customer touch point after the initial purchase. Make sure your customers are a priority in 2016, and make the right investments to enhance the customer experience. Your customers and your bottom line with thank you for it.